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9 Ways To Prevent Burnout

9 Ways To Prevent Burnout


    You would think that avoiding burnout would simply be a matter of not crossing a threshold of fatigue.

    Burnout is not that simple.

    Burnout And Creativity

    Burnout is often work-related because we are increasingly expected to be not only highly creative but also highly productive – like creativity machines.

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    Robert Fritz, author of the bestseller, The Path of Least Resistance, writes that when we are creating there are two parts to the process:

    1. Stretch: which occurs when we work and expand ourselves in the work.
    2. Consolidation: which occurs when we take a step back afterward, rest and assimilate the results of the work.

    Both parts of the process are necessary and support each other. Our fast-paced economic system keeps many of us stuck in the stretch phase of creating. If you are stretching and not consolidating, you are headed for burnout.

    What Is Burnout?

    Burnout is not just an emotional problem. Merriam-Webster  defines burnout as:

    “Exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”

    Burnout usually occurs for one of two reasons:

    1. Lack of rest or rejuvenation (overwork)
    2. Lack of motivation or reward

    Over the past 50 years rest has acquired a bad reputation. You can rest when you are dead is how the thinking goes.

    However, work and rest are two complementary sides of the same cycle and they enhance each other. We know this intuitively because we love getting a good night’s sleep after a day of positive and productive work and love going to work when we feel refreshed and on top of our game. When the cycle is working well we feel positive momentum; when not, we feel drained.

    Burnout can also occur when:

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    1. …the work we are doing work that doesn’t suit our skills or interests.
    2. …we know we are not interested in a particular job or task and force ourselves to do it too often.
    3. …our work environment is fear-based and highly political.
    4. …we have too many emergencies, both at work and at home.
    5. …we are sick or a family member is sick.

    When we are well we can withstand some turbulence in our lives. When rough spots last too long they start to debilitate us. Life is not meant to be a long emergency.

    Assessing Burnout Potential In Your Life

    To assess burnout potential in your life, evaluate each aspect of your life below on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being low in stress and burnout potential and 10 being extreme burnout potential.

    1. Consider your physical condition:
      1. You are strong and have physical reserves, you may have the ability to withstand long-term stressful situations.
      2. Your resilience is lower, you need to be careful about how much stress you tolerate and monitor yourself for physical burnout.
      3. You become fatigued easily.
      4. You are sick or get sick easily.
    2. Consider your work situation:
      1. Are you valued?
      2. Are you doing work you love?
      3. Do you have the skills you need to succeed?
      4. Do you work with people who are good for you?
      5. Is the organization well managed?
      6. Do you have to overwork too much?
      7. Are you compensated well? Are your benefits good?
    3. Consider your relationships:
      1. Start with your family. Is it a warm, loving and supportive family or are you generally frustrated by the unhappiness in your family?
      2. Do you have close supportive friends?
      3. Do you have a community you are a part of?
      4. Are you happy with your social life?
      5. Are your work relationships good?
    4. Consider the time of year:
      1. Are there certain times when you are more overloaded than others and at risk of burnout?
      2. Are there times when the people around you are overloaded and your responsibilities increase as a result?
    5. Consider the totality of your life:
      1. Do you have burnout in some or two area spilling over into others?
      2. Do you see the potential for burnout to develop in an area in the future?
      3. When you look at your burnout assessment how does it look to you? piece of cake? manageable? serious burnout potential?

    There are no right answers and no score to determine your burnout potential. Your assessment is a map of your current situation so that you can easily get a high level view of your current situation.

    With your assessment in hand, it might be useful to consider whether your burnout challenges are people challenges, time management challenges, or a need to develop skills. Sometimes we lack a skill set that could make our life easier, save time and reduce stress.

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    Steps To Prevent Burnout

    There are many things you can do to prevent burnout:

    1. Strengthen your body first. Improve your energy by getting a great night’s sleep, exercising, keeping hydrated and eating well. Detox your body since toxins can build up causing debility over time.
    2. Learn to meditate to relieve stress and help you with emotional balance. It works wonders.
    3. Make a list of all the areas you want to work on and set priorities for them.
    4. Research on the Internet about the issues you want to take on. Do not be afraid to tackle large issues like career choices and family problems.
    5. Do not be afraid to cut back on commitments that are too draining.  Your other commitments will benefit from your improved attention.
    6. Upgrade your skills to keep yourself marketable and functioning well.
    7. For the tasks you hate, you have several options: drop them if they are really unimportant, break them up into small bite size work units so that you only have to so it for a short time, delegate them, or trade your undesired task with someone else’s undesired task.
    8. Determine what is most important to you so that you increase your time spent on your high value activities and therefore increase your satisfaction.
    9. Treat burnout as a life-time concern that you can eliminate but taking good care of your life.

    Everyone’s life matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their life.  Accept the reality of change and plan to be resilient but also make sure you can say no.  You do not have to carry the world on your shoulders.

    When you are proactive, flexible, mindful about commitments and take excellent care of yourself you are doing what is necessary to beat burnout.  Good luck!

    (Photo credit: Burnt Match Between New Matchsticks via Shutterstock)

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    Maria Hill

    Maria Hill is the owner of Sensitive Evolution, an online platform dedicated to improving the lives of highly sensitive people.

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2019

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

    In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

    These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

    1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

    Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

    But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

    Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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    2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

    You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

    The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

    3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

    If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

    Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

    If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

    4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

    Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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    To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

    In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

    5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

    We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

    If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

    Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

    “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

    6. Give for the Joy of Giving

    When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

    One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

    So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

    7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

    Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

    Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

    When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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    So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

    9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

    Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

    It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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    Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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